The option value of data in a crisis

The COVID-19 crisis prompts new questions, like who is at greatest risk of exposure to this new coronavirus. For this particular question, the answer is hiding in data that already exists. The New York Times did an analysis showing which workers are at greatest risk of exposure to the coronavirus. The vertical axis shows how […]

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The Law As Data Capital

Harvard Law School and Ravel Law, a startup, are digitizing Harvard’s complete collection of US case law going back to 1647 . That’s 43,000 volumes, totaling about 40 million pages. This new trove of data capital costs millions to create. It will be free to search online, but analysis of the data can only be had for a […]

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Data Is Capital, Not Money

Capital and money might seem like the same thing, but they’re not. A lot of executives I talk to about data capital confuse the two — even MBAs! So, let’s clarify the difference between capital and money, and why it matters when it comes to data. Take capital first. Capital, along with labor and land, is […]

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Data Can’t Prove Happiness

On a recent trip, I stand in line at an airport Starbucks to get a hit. In front of me is an older woman, fussily put together and a bit anxious. She turns around and asks, “Do you come to this airport often?” This is either the worst pick-up line ever or a precursor to a question that […]

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The Services Conundrum

Thomas Piketty’s doorstop, Capital In the Twenty-First Century, is so massive it gave a new name to a classic index of unreadness. But it’s actually really good. And, it includes the observation that, historically, the services sector has seen lower productivity gains than the industrialized goods sector because services tend to be less sensitive to technological advances. This is a big deal […]

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Happy Bloomsday, Big Data!

Around the world today the literati celebrate Bloomsday by drinking deep of James Joyce’s intoxicating prose. And beer. Lots of literary beer. I remember this day every year because James Joyce taught me to love big data. Bloomsday commemorates Joyce’s life and his masterwork Ulysses, a massive creation that captures the universal in the specifics of one […]

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